nuances, they all rely on the presumption that DoubleClick has a number of advantages that would, absent the merger, allow it to develop into a key competitor of Google in the market for online ad intermediation and, by extension, in the market for the provision of bundled online ad intermediation and ad serving services.
As explained in paragraph 191, DoubleClick already launched an ad exchange which it is testing with some of its customers. Therefore DoubleClick had planned to develop into an ad intermediation operator. Such plans have been put forward and described in detail in DoubleClick's internal documents about the ad exchange.
The relevant question however is whether the elimination of DoubleClick as a potential competitor in the market for online ad intermediation and in the provision of bundled online ad intermediation and ad serving services may significantly impede effective competition. To this purpose, it must be noted that the guidelines on the assessment of horizontal mergers126, in paragraph 60, clearly indicate that two conditions must be fulfilled: first, there must be a significant likelihood that the potential competitor would have grown into an effective competitive force and second, that there would be an insufficient number of other competitors left which could maintain sufficient competitive pressure after the merger127.
In order to perform this assessment, DoubleClick's possible relevant advantages will be analysed and compared with the situation of other companies operating in the market for ad intermediation. DoubleClick's alleged advantages can broadly be divided into three types:
First, advantages deriving from the possible integration of DoubleClick's ad serving technology with ad intermediation services offered by DoubleClick;
Second, advantages deriving from the current customer base of DoubleClick among both publishers and advertisers; and
Third, the existence of direct network effects which could give DoubleClick a strong competitive advantage through the use of information about consumer behaviour collected through ad serving.
126.96.36.199.1. Advantages deriving from the possible integration of DoubleClick's ad serving technology with ad intermediation services offered by DoubleClick
As explained above, DoubleClick enjoys a strong position with regard to ad
serving technology for advertisers and other players, both large and small
for publishers, even if it is constrained by competitors. Several respondents have
Guidelines on the assessment of horizontal mergers under the Council Regulation on the control of concentrations between undertakings (OJ C 31, 5.2.2004, p. 5).
The guidelines actually state that “there must not be a sufficient number of other potential competitors”, but in the light of a contextual interpretation, it is apparent that the second condition would neither be met if a sufficient number of actual competitors are left in the market.